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Piquant, strong, distinctive and highly aromatic flavor.

Europeans and Western style cooks use it in meat and fish stews, salads, salad dressings, other sauces and with vegetables. An essential ingredient in South Eastern Asia and Indian cooking to flavor all kinds of curries and other spiced dishes; it also has an important place in Japanese and Chinese cuisine.

Garlic has been grown since the beginning of Civilization. It has been used for cooking and in medicine since pre-historic times.

Garlic was attributed the ability to fight vampires and all sorts of evil eye; it has been hung over doors and cradles to ward off witchcraft. There is no end to the culinary uses of garlic. Its medical attributes, once considered almost miraculous, are now common knowledge.

How to identify garlic

Garlic is the bulb of a lily-like plant. Each bulb separates into flavorful segments, or cloves, covered in a white papery skin.

The bulbs have a cluster of stringy roots and a single glossy green stem. The leaves are flat and grow 12-24 in (30-60 cm) long. The flowers, whitish or pale pink, appear in late summer.

Garlic is grown in warm and temperate climates all over the world, though it was probably indigenous to Asia. Cooler climates seem to affect the flavor, not being so good.

Garlic is available as whole bulbs; dried as flakes, granules, powder, and powder with salt (garlic salt); preserved peeled cloves or pureed in jars and tubes; and as frozen minced garlic.

How to use and store

Garlic is used as seasoning. Buy bulbs for best flavor. Use the peeled cloves whole, minced, crushed or mashed with a knife, mortar and pestle, or a garlic press. Whole unpeeled garlic cloves are used in some recipes. Keep the bulbs in a cool dry place.

Dried and preserved garlic can add flavor to soups, stews and cooked sauces. Use them for convenience, but fresh garlic cloves impart a much better flavor. Garlic powder does not keep for long, loosing flavor and aroma quickly

Preserved cloves and pureed garlic are best used only in cooked dishes; they give an unpleasant bitter flavor to salad dressings or uncooked sauces. Powdered garlic can be added to some salad dressings or uncooked sauces.

Garlic is used in almost every cuisine in the world. Together with ginger, it is probably the most important seasoning in the subtle and refined Chinese cuisine. Garlic is everywhere in Indian or South Eastern Asian cuisine. It is also used in Mexican, Central and South American dishes, as much as in many of the South and West regions of the United States.

Garlic is traditional in Mediterranean cooking, including the sophisticated French cuisine.

How to grow garlic

Garlic is easy to grow in a kitchen garden. Plant the cloves in spring or autumn, spacing them to 6 in (15 cm). Choose light soil and a sunny position. Garlic plants like manure. Harvest will come 5-6 months later.

Dry the bulbs thoroughly and keep them in a cool, dry place.

Cooking with garlic

Garlic is the main flavoring in the Castilian garlic soup and also in the Andalusian gazpacho, the Mediterranean ali-oli or shrimps with garlic, the popular tapa recipe, the Greek skordalia - a garlic mayonnaise. French cuisine made famous its snails in garlic butter or the Provencal poulet aux quarante gousses d'ail.

Add one or two cloves of garlic to your ordinary mayonnaise to make it into garlic mayonnaise; this is a great dipping sauce for potatoes boiled in their skin.

To add a garlic and herbs flavor, fry 10 cloves of garlic, slivered, in 4 Tbs olive oil; add 1 other clove of garlic, crushed, the leaves from 1 sprig of parsley, finely chopped, 1 tsp thyme leaves and 6 peppercorns, crushed. Stir a couple of times. Add the juice of 1 lemon. Stir to mix well and pour this sauce, still hot, over small pieces of deep fried chicken.

Garlic substitution

If you don't have it, you can substitute 1 fresh clove of garlic, minced or crushed, with one of these:

  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic from a jar or liquid garlic seasoning
  • 1 tsp frozen minced garlic
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp roasted garlic - sweeter flavor.
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp garlic flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt - reducing salt by 1/2 tsp in the recipe
  • 1/2 tsp garlic juice - not so pungent
  • 1/2 tsp garlic chives - green color
  • 1/2 tsp minced shallots -not so pungent
  • 1/8 tsp asafetida, just a pinch - garlic and onion flavors.

Black garlic is the same white garlic, only aged. The taste is not so strong, sweeter. It can be peeled and eaten as is, or used as cooking ingredient, pretty much the same as normal garlic. The garlic lingering smell disappears and the claim is that black garlic is to garlic the same as balsamic vinegar to vinegar.


Egyptian slaves building the Pyramids ate large quantities of garlic to preserve strength. Garlic bulbs were found in Tutankhamen's tomb.

Garlic was the charm Odysseus used to make the sorceress Circe fall in love with him and spare his life.

The Greeks recommended garlic to clear the voice and as a remedy for coughs and colds.

Garlic has made into lotions to cure skin problems.

1772, Marseilles, France - four thieves tried and convicted of robbing the tombs of plague victims claim they resisted infection by eating hefty amounts of garlic.

Early 19th century, London, England - English priests assisting with an outbreak of infectious fever get sick, while their French garlic-eating counterparts, also helping out, suffer no ill effect.

World War I - garlic is used as antiseptic in wounds when there is no access to conventional ones.

Present times - garlic blood thinning properties are widely recognized, as well as its ability to lower blood pressure. People on blood thinning drugs should be careful with their garlic intake, while those aiming to prevent heart disease should include garlic in their diets.

Garlic is present in an Egyptian festival as old as the Pharaohs and it is also the object of an annual celebration at Gilroy, California, center of USA garlic production.

allium sativum (liliaceae) - garlic

French: ail
German: knoblauch
Italian: aglio
Spanish: ajo
Dutch: knoflook.